|Bryan Mathews photo / AuburnSports.com|
I was surprised to not see Auburn in the new helmets last season, when it first became widely available. With head equipment manager Dana Marquez being big on safety and the best available technology for his team, I thought Auburn would have been one of the first to try out the new helmet. Marquez, who was recently honored by the Maxwell Award for his innovative shoulder pad technology (more on that here), is one to thoroughly research these types of safety innovations, so I believe he wanted a bit more information before fitting his Auburn football players with Riddell's helmet. After two years worth of data, Marquez apparently found the SpeedFlex to accomplish what Riddell claimed, and has since brought the helmet to the Tigers.
|Jalen Harris / Bryan Mathews photo / AuburnSports.com|
I plan to fully discuss different helmets in another post closer to football season, but for now, a quick rundown on the SpeedFlex's safety features. The first thing anyone will notice with the helmet is the flap on the front crown of the lid. The oddly shaped cut-out in the shell is designed to flex and disperse the majority of any contact to the helmet. Many spots on the helmet are designed to flex a bit - while not as visible as the front flap - including the facemask and attachment system. The chinstraps are ratchet-based, rather than the old snap-button system. This helps keep the chinstraps attached, and keeps the helmet from flying off with contact.
As for designs, the SpeedFlex isn't very kind to teams that wear helmet stripes. As you can see, Auburn has chosen to cut the helmet stripes, as to not cover up the empty space between the flap and the rest of the shell. Many other teams have chosen to go this route. A few occasions have seen the stripe go un-cut and go right over the flap and the empty space. Personally, I hate to see the stripe cut, but I think it fits best with the flap. Although it does make the stripe more susceptible to damage, as seen below:
|Julie Bennett / al.com|